The Daunting Power of New

If you’ve been following along here at Ready to be Thirsty, you know there’s a challenge coming up after Christmas and the New Year to go booze free – a ‘dry month’, in January 2017.  Well, instead of going completely cold, you could instead cut back, or give yourself a handful of select drinking days.  Whatever works for you.

What’s the point of it, Doug?’

Well, thank you…I am so happy you asked.

The point, good fellow, kind madam, is to make the attempt to go without the alcohol for a month to….well, to get healthy.  Or…to become conscious of your drinking patterns.  Or…to gain insight into something new, a healthy habit, find joy, renew a long-lost activity, or otherwise discover something besides drinking (which we often do for entertainment, or to facilitate/lubricate the same).  Heck, you could discover a new YOU.

According to studies and news from the Brits – whose Dry January campaign has followers in the millions:

  • the value is in the attempt, succeed or otherwise.  The attempt makes all the difference…
  • many persons who did the challenge, perfectly or otherwise, carried healthier habits forward for six months, a year, longer
  • they tried new things, while escaping their routines.  They learned about themselves, their friends, their habits, and dare I say it, their spirit….!

So, if that sounds interesting to you, come to our Facebook page, ‘like’ it, follow along in January.  Maybe challenge a friend to do the same and dare to get Thirsty

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Shake Shake Shake your Chibuku

Above, you see a group of rugby players attempting to try an African-produced beer-type drink called Chibuku Shake Shake.  This is technically ‘beer’, but not as we know it.  It’s a thick milky, brown-ish alcoholic beverage from Africa, made from sorghum.

As you can see in the video, it is served in a milk carton.  Interestingly, it’s alcohol content is not constant – as it is first packaged, it starts with a very low concentration, and gradually increases over time (after you buy it, if you don’t drink it right away, it gets stronger).  But, after about a week on the shelf, you wouldn’t want to drink it anymore, as it goes bad.  In fact, seeing this video, you may not want to drink it at all, as it appears pretty bad to begin with!

I learned about Chibuku from the following map:

fav-drinks-map

This is from the BBC – a world map of the favorite or most commonly consumed alcohol drinks across the world.

Orange countries love beer.  Yellow colored countries prefer spirits (aka ‘hard liquor’), and red countries dig their wine.  But those green countries – they love ‘other beverages’ – which led me to discovering Chibuku and a variety of other interesting and obscure variants out there.

Follow this link to article and the BBC Booze Calculator.  This will let you plug in your own weekly consumption habits and compare to international drinkers and countries the world over.  Not sure how much Chibuku you’re chugging down, but maybe you want to check out how much beer Canadians actually consume…

 

PONG !!

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No, not that Pong.  This Pong:

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Beer Pong.  You know, that game involving ping pong balls and Solo cups and lotsa heavy drinking.

And we can find beer pong ‘kits’ and other drinking paraphernalia at local grocery stores and big box (department) stores that sell beer as an extension of their grocery department.  Funnels or beer ‘bongs’.  Drinking games. Other fun stuff.  All to encourage mass consumption and intoxication.

People love it so much, they’ve built interactive, electronic beer pong tables, as covered by the CBC.

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems a tad irresponsible to be marketing Beer Pong and the tools of crazy drunkenness in the same place they sell toys, cheese and baby clothes.  We have children, many of whom that cannot discern between colorful things meant for amusement or more nefarious activities, that are going to get the wrong impression.

Yo Ho ! There be warnings ahead

 

http://Alcohol%20warning%20labels

There are rumblings from the far side o’ the future that we may end up with warning labels on our alcoholic beverages.   Which might be interesting, considering there is advocacy for nutrition labels as well.  You know – highlighting all those ’empty calories’ – energy without nutrition.

I am no expert on the law, but considering what I do know about legislation, I’ll guess the reason you have a listing of ingredients and calories on a Pizza Pop  but not on a beer…is because, legally speaking, beer is not Food !  Food has the potential to provide your body with important sustenance, vitamins, protein.  Whereas beer is….well, you know what beer is.

Labels to better enrich our understanding of what we are getting up to and in to when we drink has been studied, such as in the video above from Global News.  If certain advocacy groups succeed (such as health agencies who want you to live long and prosper) – you’ll be see labels like the ones below, as highlighted by CTV.

alcohol warning

The question is whether these kinds of labels are effective in changing drinking behaviors.  I think it’s fair to say that they raise awareness about the issue, as they are so graphic as to be unavoidable and unmistakable.

But they would be just one piece of a change in our social philosophy regarding alcohol – where it begins with more persons working to have more non-drinking days, as part of the Low Risk Drinking Guidelines.

 

Political Guide to Getting DeBunked

alcohol-map

We’re all for debunking myths here at Thirst. And maybe there’s a perception about alcohol that it’s universally available here in Canada, or certainly that it’s more broadly available than ever before.  Maybe.  Maybe not.

And certainly, we may not all know how much variance there is in pricing from province to province.  Maybe you think it’s all the same.  It isn’t.

From a fairly light exploration of Canada’s drinking laws on Narcity.com, see above a map illustrating variations in the selling points of alcohol, across the territories and provinces.   You can see that booze isn’t even available in Nunavut, and if you wanted a beer, you’d have to order it by mail… and that Alberta has private liquor stores.  A big difference in approach from Ontario!

What’s more, you can see on an interactive map from the.Loop that in addition to different places, there are also very different prices.  In fact, beer is so much cheaper in Quebec that some persons have taken to making ‘runs’ to buy big quantities and bringing it back to their home province.   This from a more serious discussion on CBC news,  illuminating details on recent discussions about inter-provincial laws as they relate to alcohol.

Make no mistake – booze is big business, and these variations represent the market forces of large industries and other interests. Any thoughts to the contrary are a myth, indeed.

Perhaps if we as a society viewed alcohol as something potentially very harmful that needed to be managed instead of a commodity that needed to be sold, the rules would be different.  On that note, see the chart below, illustrating the harms (disease/dependence/injuries/violence) of alcohol as compared to other drugs…an eye opener!

harm

Big Culture, Big Alcohol

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Alcohol is part of our culture.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that in the past of number of years, the breadth of alcohol culture has increased, -its availability has widened.

It’s a lot more places than it ever used to be…

We see the possibility of booze being consumed where we get our haircut, at Starbucks, at the whole darned festival instead of just the beer tent, on the golf course, at the Farmer’s market.  We can buy it at the Supermarket.

This is in part due to market forces – economics.  Connected to economics and money as a driver, is marketing.  Marketing is the communication between corporate entities and consumer audiences, trying to entice changes in our choices and behaviour.  Marketing is a huge part of how we think, imagine, behave and define our social expectations.

For example, the diamond ring as an engagement present is a relatively new idea, perpetuated through mass marketing of diamonds by the DeBeers corporation.  Essentially, marketing convinced us as a society that diamonds are a symbol of love and commitment…and they sold a whole lot more diamonds after that.  It’s a very famous story.

The same principles hold true to alcohol marketing.  While economics have created pressure to allow alcohol to be available in more places, marketing has worked to create alcohol as a normal, everyday thing – a symbol of fun, ceremony or social exuberance.

Yet, let’s think for a second:

  • no one hands out samples of other recreational drugs at the Supermarket
  • there are no other recreational drugs that are advertised in print, or on television to make us feel we’ll be more attractive, popular, or likely to find a sexual partner if we partake…
  • no other recreational drugs have posters at the bus stop, or on huge billboards, or have hilarious commercials during sporting events
  • no other recreational drugs have massive sponsorship deals to support sports, athletes, car-racing or the arts…

Yet we have all this and much, much more for alcohol, convincing us that alcohol is a normal, fun, exciting, sexy, dynamic, funny, crazy, wonderful thing.  And while any one of us might feel this way in regards to booze for a social occasion or two, the truth is that over-consumption of alcohol is killing us, and costing us billions as a society.

 

Truth in Advertising ??

A compelling documentary on alcohol is attached to this Blog.  It’s long-ish, but maybe you’ll find it as fascinating as I did.

After all – the ‘truth’ in regards to alcohol is a complex one. We’ve got it sold by huge corporate entities, or used as liquid leverage to stimulate tourism.  We love to drink it at parties and gatherings, we use to amplify emotion, and to celebrate and to commiserate.

We are addicted to it…as individuals, and as a society who seems to want it ever more varied and available.

It correlates with crime and violence.

It creates disease.

It facilitates a party.

It shores up confidence (or is it impulsiveness?)

Alcohol has very complex and interwoven truths that filter down through every layer of our society and social lives.  It generates interesting and wild stories.  Some such stories have tragic endings.

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